May 1, 2008

Back at It!

I haven't posted to this blog recently, but thought I would start again.
Interesting article by Thomas Friedman with the NYT's.

Currently I am writing my pre-lim's and looking at my dissertation topic of Blended Learning, socialization and facilitation of Flow for small groups working in these areas.

Hopefully more later!

January 8, 2007

Winter Break!

I hope everyone is enjoying the winter break! With unseasonable temperatures in the midwest, we have been able to get outside and enjoy this mild weather. (at least for Minnesotans!)

Courses have been completed, grades have been posted and learning continues on. This past semester found me making some decisions relative to research ideas for my doctoral program. I was able to explore many of the areas that I have been learning more about this past couple of years and I am getting a sense of structure of what I would like to look at for my thesis. (applying some of Vygotsky's work!)

This last paper I worked on for the Formations course focused on group dynamics within an work environment. Some areas that I found interesting was the work of Amabile and others on Creativity and Motivation within group work. Along with this, was the challenge of group functioning within a Computer Mediated Communication environment. As I am continuing to reveal layers of optimal group functioning, I seem to come to dead ends when it comes to measurement and understanding of the most way to help groups/individuals function optimally.

I think part of it comes from the underlying theme of individual contribution and motivation to the group. How the individual identifies or wants to identify with the group is an important precept in overall group functioning. At the core of this thinking is the idea of individual happiness and where individuals are personally when it comes to desire/motivation to contribute to the group.

An article in the NYT's gave a pretty good synthesis of the concept of happiness versus pleasure and how it is being taught on campus' around the country. The author discusses Dr. Todd Kashdan's class at George Mason University on positive psychology and the ability to teach and learn happiness. Very interesting material when it comes into dealing with core issues of group functioning within the workplace.

We have all probably been in groups where the group has really functioned well together and came up with a good endproduct, service or presentation.

On the other hand, we have all probably been in a group where there was dysfunction relative to the work and consequentially had a mediocre or poor result. How much of this could be attributed to lack of skill, (social or knowledge based) and how much of this is based on the negativity that individual or individuals bring to the group. Is this able to be addressed or modified in order to help with group functionality. Is this even something that is important?

A distinction in this pursuit of happiness is the concept of pleasure vs. lasting happiness. The pleasure part is called a hedonistic treadmill whereas the lasting happiness speaks for itself. Empiricists and researchers have found distinctions in these areas that are measurable in terms of personal well-being but does this matter when it comes to group and work efficiency? For skeptics and bottom liners, so what? How can this play into the economics of the workplace?

October 26, 2006

Is Technology deskilling the Workforce and Social Efficiency

It's been an interesting few weeks! We have been pretty immersed in the 8141 class and reading and writing a lot!

Our mid-term paper was due yesterday and mine was on; Social Efficiency and Social Reconstruction-Effects on 19th Century Educational Structure.
Without getting into to much detail, I was trying to read, interpret, study, reflect and write on the effect technological advances, growth and change had on our worker education system during the Progressivism period. What had sparked my interest in this, was the concept of social efficiency and how it was such a large push in the country at the time, due to multiple reasons. What was also interesting, was the corresponding response as exemplified by people like Jane Addams, John Dewey, Booker Washington,William Wirt and others.
It was interesting to me to learn about a historical period and at least try to transfer some of these thoughts to modern day. When we look cross-culturally at this example, especially into places like China and India, we can see the cause for concern of dehumanizing the process of education. We can also see the long term deleterious effect that this may have on overall system productiviity. On the other hand, from the organizations perspective, it would seem that it would be a good idea to slot students/workers into needs of the organization based on their respective skills. Isn't this the premise of a good organization? I think the important thing from these recent lectures, classes and readings is the idea of balance and moderation in the application of these theories to practice.
We are pushing onto the more philosophical side of the class and already it is very interesting!
Yesterdays lecture/discussion was on the readings of Braverman's labor process theory (technology leading to deskilling of the workforce)Hecht(similar) and introduction to Foucault's notion of subjectivity that bureaucracies engender individuation, through means such as science (personality testing/Myers Briggs,etc,), through corp. culture and internal labor markets. We are also going to be talking about team work middle management loss due to reliance on teams and how this constitutes the checking of peer behavior (Barker)

September 22, 2006

Using Blogs, Wikis, etc,./Thoughts on WHRE Foundations 8141

As I'm becoming somewhat familiar with these technology tools, I'd like to add a link about the UMWiki. This is on my to do list. I would like to start one for WHRE topics. I saw one for EdPA, but it looked like it was in its infancy stages.

U of Mn Wiki Tool

Thoughts on WHRE 8141

We have now had a few classes and I am finding it very interesting. The readings have helped me broaden my understanding of the history and philosophy of work as it relates to us and the organizations we work with. What has also been interesting is to reflect on the previous classes and experiences that I have had. Especially the recent trip to China. It is interesting for me to read about our neo-classical roots while thinking about Eastern ideology and how it is playing such a larger role than I think many of us realize in our current environment. Our class is an eclectic group of people from many different walks of life and cultures. As we are in the early stages of "forming" in the class, it will be interesting to see what the "stormin" and "normin" phases will look like.

Our group has picked the topic of "Motivation and the Individual". Broad topic with many potentially interesting avenues that we may be able to pursue. We are possibly going to use a blog for collaborating on this. Some other options could be setting up a UMWiki. This has more options, but can be problematic in terms of using to much time learning the process as opposed to learning the current topic. Does Argyris address this in his "Double Loop Learning" concept?

Maybe this is more about the metacognition discussion piece we had in our first class?

Our first paper is also going to be a challenge for me. We will need to use a historical influence through out our topic that we pick. I'm thinking of the historical influence of technology on work, human resource and education but I think I need to narrow this down somewhat.

September 5, 2006

Start of Fall Classes!

Well, we are at it again! Welcome back to everybody who is pursuing their academic dreams and attending classes this fall.

I have decided to take a little lighter load this fall and concentrate on some of the readings that I have learned about this last year. I recently ordered books about Vygotsky, Friere, and other's. I am always looking for additional suggestions, so feel free to add ideas in the comments area. Some heavy reading but I think I need to understand some of these learning theorists more before I decide what area of a doctorate to work on.

I also have a son who is a senior this year and another one involved in sports at the local high school, so I would like to be able to be available for things they will be doing.

One of my courses will be emphasizing the history and philosophy of work, human resource and education. It will involve much reading, reflection and writing. Although the academic writing is a challenge philosophically for me, I am beginning to understand its purpose and need in filtering opinion from facts. The historical aspect of the course should also be interesting. As always it will be hard for me to synthesize things down to applications that I have interests in. This part of graduate school, indeed academia in general is where I find the most challenge philosophically. Although I understand the need for academic rigor in our coursework is necessary, the evaluation of our work is based more on our writing abilityrather than knowledge and understanding of the material. (my opinion) For example, if I was to compare and contrast Vygotsky and Friere's work through use of different CMC (Computer Mediated Communcation) such as an interactive Ppt or Voice tool application. Wouldn't this display knowledge in two areas? This gets into some of the work that Chris Argyris has done regarding double loop learning. With interests in learning theory and application of it using different technologies for displaying this knowledge, I feel I could be more motivated to dig deeper and more contextually into these areas. (at least for myself) Aw well, who said it would be easy!


I also have been working recently with a small local group called Interfaith Hospitality Network. They are part of a larger national organization that provides crisis housing for families that are on the verge of being homeless. I would like to help provide some financial literacy and advocacy support for this organization. I'll keep my blog posted as things develop here.

Here is an interesting article/book relating to the Michael Katz work and the poor in America.

Its interesting to read about his lifetime of experience and consider its application for an international context. One of the principal thesis of his writings is that poor people have very little control over their environment and that it is very difficult to reach any level of normalcy while they are in these environments. Here are some interesting statistics from his book.
Among African-American children in this country, half live in poverty.

In the city of Washington, African-American males who are between the ages of eighteen and thirty-four, 50% are in the criminal justice system.

Well good luck to all students this fall!

August 7, 2006

Name Change!

Ok, now I've done it. I'm probably confusing all of the people that have looked at this......NOT!! Anyways, as my China class is over, I thought I would change this blog to more of a personal reflection relative to graduate school, life, or anything that might be of interest to people and myself. Currently I am close to finishing the masters program and considering going on to doctoral work. I'm not sure in what area. I have multiple interests in Adult Ed., Learning Technologies, HRD and Evaluation Studies. Eval. Studies has been interesting due to the amount of needs out there. Anyways this is short for now. As always, feel free to add anything that you think might be interesting!

July 17, 2006

Final Presentations and follow-up

Well, we completed our presentations on Saturday and they were awesome! From Jeff's time-line and history on China, to Dawn and Eric's slide-music show, it was a great end to a great experience.

Here is also an interesting link on China from Peggy's presentation.

Thank you again especially to Dr. Yang and Dr. Park for pulling this all together. The logistics and coordinating all of the different organizations and university visits were a tremendous accomplishment. I hope that this HRD/Adult Ed. experience can be shared with others from outside of our group. Please let other people know about this experience. As I have experienced from this trip, culturally awareness and sensitivity broadens our horizon of learning. The ability to combine this sensitivity with teacher/trainer effectiveness, can build relationships/bridges that are both meaningful for potentially all involved.

I will be keeping this blog going for awhile, but may change some of subject matter to include reflections on my overall educational experience and other interesting (at least in my opinion :0) ), subjects.

In regards to that, I have been following the experience of a good friends daughter, as she works through Vanderbilt University on the Kampala Project in Africa. Her posting is under the blog section and her name is Dana Petersen

July 1, 2006

Tibetan Railway

What an interesting article this was!

After having been in the eastern and central eastern part of the "civilized" part of China, I have been thinking what the Silk road and the Tibetan area would be like. It is such a large country and being there for only two weeks does not do the country justice in terms of other things to see and do.

June 21, 2006

Tian'an Men (The Gate of Heavenly peace)


Here is our group in Tiananmen Square after touring the entire Forbidden City from the North gate and finishing here at the South Gate or Gate of Heavenly Peace in the background.

This is an immense area that is centered in the middle of Beijing. This is a cultural center of Beijing and is a symbol of the new China.

Our guide, "Super Ben", gave us many facts, figures, stories and anecdotes along the way.
Please feel free to add any of your memories or thoughts about this area here.

June 20, 2006

America Listening and Kampala Project.

Here are some links to a couple of websites/blogs that are international and humantarian in context. Both are indirectly related to our China trip from a humanistic perspective.

America Listening was just completed this last winter and spring. It is relatively self-explanatory. This may be on PBS as a documentary in the next few months.

The Kampala Project is work that is being done through Vanderbilt University in Africa that a friend of mine is participating in.

If anybody has any other interesting sites, pictures comments, etc, feel free to attach in a comment, or e-mail to me.